Kolkata: West Bengal’s biggest festival, Durga Puja, began yesterday with the rituals of ‘Mahashasti,’ in which the Goddess is welcomed to her earthly abode.
Neighbourhoods woke up to the roll of ‘dhak’ (drums) under a clear autumn sky as priests invoked Goddess Durga and her family to descend on earth and help good triumph over evil.
As the day advanced, people took to the streets and by dusk, tens of thousands of people were seen at the community puja shamianas. Everyone was vying to steal the show with their aesthetic construction and dazzling lighting.
In the metropolis, city police personnel were on the roads in strength to control the crowds while the Metro Railway operated more services to cope with the Puja rush.
Metro sources said along with the electronic tokens introduced recently, passengers not familiar them were also being offered the option of buying printed paper tickets for which separate counters have been set up.
A number of organisations, including electronic channels, chose the day to confer awards on various community puja committees which participated in competitions on various aspects of Durga Puja.
The state Tourism Department, as also a number of private tour operators have lined up conducted tours of the city’s traditional private Pujas, while restaurants are offering special menu of ‘authentic’ Bengali cuisine during the festive season.
Not to be left behind, political parties of all hues have put up book stalls at the more famous community Pujas in a bid to increase their mass contact.
Indian Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, however, took time off from his busy schedule and arrived at Miriti village in Birbhum district to participate in the Durga Puja at his ancestral home.